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The rise of the fitness CLUB night

The new fitness club nights are a must for any ex-raver wanting to work up a sweat

Even fully paid-up party animals eventually get to an age when the most exciting evening event of the week is hot cocoa and a date with Evan Davis on the Dragon’s Den.  But the fitness world is conspiring to change that.  It’s serving up a new way ex-clubbers in their 30s and 40s can get themselves into a big, sweaty venue with light shows and loudness and even the odd glow stick and not have to worry about the hangover the next day or scaring the children.  It’s the Fitness Club Night and it’s coming to a venue near you.


Earlier this year, online fitness class directory ran a pop up fitness rave that drew in hundreds donning lycra and fluro sweatbands.  It featured all the best  nineties anthems – including ‘Rhythm is a dancer’ and ‘No limits’ – and intense, calorie-torching choreographed classes run over two nights with light shows and a DJ.   A combination of cardio, interval training and conditioning set to old school dance classics meant people ended up burning a heap of calories while reliving their rave days and generally having a ball.

The latest fitness club night on the block is Zumba Riot – Zumba classes done to loud Latin tunes in club-like venues. The biggest is on Wednesday nights in the massive Rise nightclub in Leicester Square that draws crowds of up to 150 people shimmy and booty-shaking under the glowlights.

zumba 3

I tried it on Monday at Chiswick Town Hall, which doesn’t sound like the most club-like venue – it’s not.  But it had been kitted out with two of those fake flame thrower thingies on the stage, massive speakers and dimmed pink and purple lighting so at least I knew I was somewhere other than a gym.  At first, it felt a little like a school disco and I half expected a boy called Darren to pounce from the shadows and stick his tongue down my throat.

But once the music started it was hard not to catch the party vibe – I thought the moves would all be a bit like the Macarena but I was wrong.  For anyone unfamiliar with Zumba it’s a collection of bootyshaking, butt shimmying moves with plenty of kicks and jumps that get your heart pumping for an entire cardio-soaked hour.

Zumba 1

It’s all done without any shouting from the instructor so there was no interruption to the divine Latin beats as our teacher, Nataliya, did the actions that we simply followed, each sequence choreographed to the specific Latin beats.

Zumba 2


Fancy footwork is not my thing and I can screw up a basic grapevine so I mum-danced my way through as best I could.  But I felt like I could do it for the most part and when I lost all co-ordination – like in the ones where you do a half squat, arms in the air and shake your whole body while spinning all the way around – I did my own version.  It was a poor impersonation of Linda Blair’s worst Exorcist moments rather than anything Zumba-related but I didn’t care, I was having a bloody good time.  It reminded me of those club days where you were so young you didn’t even care if you sweated all your make-up off – a concept that today makes me want to hide under the bed.

That’s why I like fitness club nights.  No one cares if you sweat your make-up off, you’re there to sweat not pick-up (mostly, I think) but the music and the lights mean you could almost be 22 again. Almost.

I was in a room full of women of all different shapes and sizes and ages and though the ones in the front knew what they were doing the rest of us were struggling to keep up. But when I looked around I saw so many smiles, I thought how rare it is to see people enjoying themselves in a gym class.  It looks like reliving our youth is the future of fitness.

PROS You won’t realise how hard you”re working, it doesn’t feel like exercise, it’s huge fun CONS Classes might feel too big, they happen on specific nights in specific venues, it’s not for the agorophobic

Where: Varied club and hall venues around London, see for the timetable. The next Fitness Freak pop up RAVE is on 17th and 18th of September 

How much: £8 for Zumba Riot classes

Did I pay? No, it was a press set up

Calories burned: 342 Calories calculated using the Ki Fit Body Monitor



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